NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- On August 21st, millions of people will be able to experience something truly spectacular. For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will sweep across the country from the West Coast to the East Coast.
But, how does a solar eclipse even happen?
The moon is revolving around the earth, which in turn is revolving around the sun. That means on rare occasions the moon is located between the Earth and the sun, blocking incoming light. This is a solar eclipse.
A fairly wide area of the country will receive a partial shadow, called the Penumbra, while a narrow area will get a full shadow, called the Umbra. The Umbra is the zone of a total solar eclipse, where the moon will completely block out the sun's light.
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On August 21st, that zone falls within a narrow, 70-mile-wide band, called the Path of Totality.
The eclipse starts out west near Portland, Oregon, then continues southeast through the Plains, Midwest, and Tennessee Valley, exiting the East Coast in South Carolina.
Here in the Tri-State area, we will experience a partial solar eclipse, beginning at 1:23 that afternoon. At 2:44 p.m., at the height of the event, the moon will block out 71 percent of the sun in New York City. The eclipse will be over, fully revealed again, by 4 p.m.
While it may be tempting to do so, don't look at the eclipse with the naked eye. Doing so can cause irreversible damage. Regular sunglasses won't give you much protection either. Only look at the sun through an approved solar filter. Better yet, look at the eclipse indirectly by projecting the sun's image with a pinhole or binoculars.
None of this will even be visible if it's cloudy, so be sure to stay tuned to the AccuWeather forecast leading up to August 21st as we hope for clear skies and prepare for the astronomical event of a lifetime.
What will the forecast be? You'll always know if you download the free AccuWeather app for iPhone and Android today!
Where is the best place to see the solar eclipse?
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